elitefts™ Sunday Edition

“He realized that to be in power you didn’t need guns, or money, or even superior numbers. You just needed the will to do what the other guy wouldn’t.”

I heard this quote in a movie the other night, and a light bulb went off in my head. Every successful person that I have ever met has possessed this trait. Whether it was in lifting, business, football, coaching, or in life, it really didn’t matter. They all had the will to do what the other guy wouldn’t. The more I look into it and really study it, the more I feel that this truly is the secret to success. How easy it is to make excuses, to blame someone else, or to simply call someone crazy because he or she is committed to a cause or an idea.

Did Abraham Lincoln quit when he failed to get elected to smaller offices eight times before he became president? How many professional running backs paid the price and made the sacrifice of having to go through months and months of rehab, rehab, and more rehab to recover from a torn ACL, only to come back and just miss the single season total-yardage record by nine yards like Adrian Peterson did? How many stories have you heard of parents, of single moms and dads, having the will to work extra jobs or move all over the place in order to better the lives of their children and their families? Look at Dave Tate and the sacrifices he went through to grow his company. How many lifters actually turned their dreams and ideas into a profitable business? So were all these people lucky? Did they win the lottery or just have things handed to them?

No. They had a will. A will and a belief in themselves that nothing, absolutely nothing, was going to stand in the way of their dreams. If something got in their way, they either smashed through it or found a way to make it work.

I have been lucky enough to have worked with five first-round draft picks in my career. Last week a group of freshmen were asking me about those guys, and I was explaining how they all had one common trait. While they all came from different socio-economic backgrounds, were from different parts of the country, were all raised differently, and all played different positions on the field, they did share an important trait—a will to win. A will to do the right thing all the time, regardless of the situation, and to outwork and outlast not just their teammates, but anyone else who tried to be better than them. They wanted to be the best, and they did not care what it took. They did not get into trouble; get put on "lists"; or skip workouts, treatments, or meals. Their will made them do all the things that they needed to do to be the best.

As a strength coach, this power of the will is a trait that I have NOT seen in enough coaches and interns, both young and old. If you do not have that “whatever it takes “ mentality, then don’t try to get into coaching. Period. If you are chasing fame and fortune, forget it. Too many young people think that this is a cool job—work some people out, get some free gear, and get seen on TV during a game. This could not be further from the truth. Being a strength coach in a college program is a HUGE responsibility. You are working in a multi-million dollar business and executing high-risk maneuvers with 18- to 22-year-old kids that are holding your fate in their hands. When all the coaches are on vacation or on the road recruiting, the team is basically yours and yours alone. One misstep, and your whole empire could crumble in an instant, regardless if you could have prevented it or not. Do not take this profession lightly. So many young coaches, interns, and volunteers have this outlook and are set up for failure.

At one of the programs at which I was lucky enough to coach, our intern program grew into what I felt was one the finest units ever assembled in a college weight room. (You all know who you are, and I want to take this time to thank you from the bottom of my heart). When we started the intern program, we were firing interns on a daily basis. Most of them had the attitude that this was just "a cool job working with the football team." They had no desire to be great, and they did not want to win. I was incredibly frustrated until I figured out that I had to change my thinking and do something different. Therefore, I put education, experience, and know-how on the chopping block and opened it up to guys with a will to be the best at anything and everything they were doing.

That’s when we started getting interns that were not even in school to be strength coaches. They were guys that had a connection to the football program, but they were history majors, in computer science, pursuing business management...just a whole bunch of different guys. And after a few years, they were so trusted by us and our coaches that some of them had their own teams that they were in charge of and were working them out. And do you know why they were so great and so successful? Their will. Their will to be a part of something they believed in; to learn something they knew nothing about; and to come in day after day, staying early and leaving late, and working their balls off in-between. They trumped all of the other guys—all of the other students who were taking “strength coach” classes—because their will, their desire, was stronger than those other guys'. And nothing makes me more proud than when those guys call and tell me that they are progressing in their careers, careers that have nothing to do with coaching, by using examples learned “under the bar” in that weight room.

Being a strength coach is all about passion and will. A will to make your athletes better one way or another, no matter what it takes. A will to find answers to questions you don’t know. A will to find a way to teach old dogs new tricks. A will to maximize your space, your budget, and your time. It is exciting, frustrating, rewarding, stressful, difficult, and even insane at times. But it is the best job in the world. Find out where your will takes you. You might be surprised.